How to get to Volcanoes National park for gorilla trekking? This is a question that is asked by many who want to visit the majestic Mountain Gorillas. Volcanoes National Park also known as Parc National Des Volcanos in French is the only home to mountain gorillas in Rwanda and one of the easiest of journeys for those interested in doing a Gorilla Safari in Rwanda and making the activity the most famous of all in Rwanda tourism. The park is located in Musanze/Ruhengeri is believed to be the oldest national park in Africa and home to the Mountain Gorilla, the park is bordered by The Volcanoes National Park in DR Congo and Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks in Uganda making the largest cluster of Gorillas more than half of the worlds Gorillas live in this region. The park is also home to other primates and wildlife among which the majestic and beautiful Golden monkeys which make the park even more interesting and eye-catching for those visiting, other animals that can be spotted in the park include the Hyenas, Buffaloes, Elephants, Bush backs, Duikers etc. The vegetation of this area is bamboo forests, savannah grassland, vent swamps and volcanoes (Gahinga, Muhabura, Sabinyo, Kaisimbi and Bisoke) which all offer hiking experience to those that visit the park for Gorilla tracking or any other activity.
Gorilla tracking being the most popular activity in the park makes it the most attractive and hence arises the question of how to get to the volcanoes National Park for Gorilla tracking. The road map is a clear one and much simple, the park can either be accessed by road or by Air and all this depends on one’s interests and sometimes the budget as well. The pack has more than 600 mountain Gorillas and has 10 available Gorilla Families for tracking which include the famous Susa Gorilla Family which lives high up on Mount Karisimbi and was studied by famous primatologist Dian Fossey. The other groups stay much lower down the lopes and are easier to track and are constantly on the move
From Kigali Airport on arrival, the park is just 2-3 hours’ drive away and those who organize trips through tour operators like Encounter Africa safaris don’t have to worry about the drive and getting lost as we use experienced safari guides with knowledge of the park location and Rwanda and will get you there in no time and connect to kinigi headquarters for where tracking briefing is done and allocation into the group. Whereas one can access the park from Kigali Airport this is not the only available connection option, for those from Uganda it’s possible to connect to the park most especially if you had time in Uganda as well doing safari and visiting other national parks, like for those doing either game safari and chimpanzee tracking in Uganda can connect to Volcanoes National Park with a drive of approximately 6-7 hours to the park depending on where you are and others interested in double-tracking(tracking in both Uganda and Rwanda) to get the fill of the two locations the park from Bwindi is just 2-3 hours’ drive through the Cyanika Border.
Unlike its competitors, Volcanoes National Park is the only one where one can track Gorillas and fly back home on the same day due to its closeness to the city Kigali. Bwindi and Mgahiga National Parks would require for you to spend an extra night around the park if you were to fly out through Entebbe Airport as the drive here is approximately 8-9 hours’ drive, which can sometimes be very strenuous and hectic for visitors who are not nature lovers and unenthusiastic about nature.
The park is very closely located to the capital city so one would only need to arrive in time and your driver takes you to the accommodation booked in Ruhengeri. Being so close to the city means one can even land at 1600hrs Rwanda time and still make it to the park for the night to be ready in the morning for Gorilla tracking, unlike Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which would need at least a minimum of 5 hours if the flight was landing in Kigali and 8-9 hours if the flight was landing in Entebbe.
The option for those starting their trip in Uganda either Entebbe or Kampala is a possibility with domestic flights to Kisoro Airstrip available and at cheap rates, (PLEASE NOTE ALL FLIGHTS ARE MORNING FLIGHTS DUE TO WEATHER IN THE REGION).
Where to stay.
There is lots of accommodation available in the vicinity of the park with luxury, mid-range and budget accommodation facilities all available and the decision on where to stay is entirely left to the traveller to decide based on their budget and preference. Most popular among the lodges are; In Luxury Five Volcanoes Hotels, Mountain Gorillas’ Nest Lodge, Sabinyo Silverback Lodge, Bisate Lodge, Virunga Volcanoes Lodge. These lodges try to do their best to go over and beyond in services to ensure that the guest who stays here are very comfortable and have the best time, with VIP rooms that sometimes come with room service and on the house alcoholic drinks(read includes on the lodge option before choosing)
The Midrange lodges, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge and Lebambou Gorilla Lodge, Davinci Lodge offering you good rates and value for money’ worth, these are the options to choose from when booking in Volcanoes National park.
For budge travels the options are many from basic accommodation to camping one can choose from Gorilla Solution Lodge, Villa Gorilla, Virunga Hotel, Faraji Hotel, Kinigi Hotel, Hotel Muhabura and La Palme Hotel or Home Inn.
We encourage our clients to book and stay at accommodation facility that are close to the National Park so that they can be able to connect and be at the park headquarters by 7:00am for Gorilla tracking as briefing exercise starts then and one has to go through it so that you know the does and don’ts of Gorilla tracking as well as registration.
Price of the Gorilla permit.
The Gorilla permit price in Volcanoes National Park is by far the most expensive of all National Parks where tracking Mountain Gorilla tracking permit goes for USD1500.00 per person per trek, there are also special discount rates for anyone who visits at list 3 national parks in Rwanda for a discounted rate of USD1050.00 per person per trek and USD1275.00 per person for those on conferences in Rwanda.
When to visit.
The park is open through all year and Gorilla tracking can be done any time of the year which much preference during the drier months of the year, June, July, August to mid-September. December to February and the rest of the year being the rainy months of the year. Gorilla tracking is an all-year activity and with permits available every day one can choose their dates based on when it suits their travel plan and arrange according to that.
Optional activities to do while in Volcanoes National Park.
Do not limit yourself to Gorilla tracking, volcanoes National Park offers much more beyond just tracking Gorillas and these are always excellent add on for any Gorilla tracking. Among these is Golden monkey tracking which requires also a day of its own being that the process is more or less similar to Gorilla tracking, required to be at the park at 7:00am for briefing and then head out to the forest for tracking the Golden Monkeys when you meet them, you are allowed to be with them for one hour just like the Gorillas. The price of the Golden monkey permit is USD100.00 for foreign nonresidents, foreign residents USD65.00 of Rwanda and foreign residents of East Africa other than Rwanda USD80.00.
Another option would be hiking, with the park having 5 of the mountains in the Virunga region, hikes are conducted on a daily and do not require any prior arrangement to be apart to this. This means one can hike to the top and back in one day with Mount Karisimbi being the highest at 4507m followed by mt. Bisoke at 37771m, Mt Gahinga at 3470m, Mt Muhabura at 4127m and Mt Mikeno at 4437 avail options for you to choose from.
Other activities include birding, nature walks, cave visits, community visits and volunteer work, the famous Dian Fossey trail. All these can be booked on ground and require no prior arrangements of any kind.
How to book a Gorilla safari.
This is best recommended to be done by a recognized safari company to ensure that all services are booked and confirmed. Encounter Africa Safaris provides you with a solution to the search of a company to use. We offer quality service and are very reliable when it comes to arranging trips based on our experience over the years in handling this and you can always check on our TripAdvisor and Safari Bookings to know more about our reputation.